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Being born and raised on a dairy farm had a great influence on Upton resident Chris Hines, who pursued his passions of working and fishing as he got older, overcoming obstacles along the way.
Hines is a professional fisherman, a city councilman and a business owner.
“From a young age, I knew what hard work was,” said Hines, 38. “That was something instilled in me at a young age.”
Raised by his mother, Hines recalled listening to “The Dukes of Hazzard” on a 13-inch black-and-white TV, unable to watch the program because the picture tube was broken. They couldn’t afford another TV.
Once, he excitedly told his mother he heard a commercial advertising four White Castle hamburgers for a dollar.
“My mom said, ‘Honey, we don’t have a dollar,’” Hines said.
Hard work was a 24/7 proposition, but over the years, he developed another passion.
“I love to work, but I also love to fish,” he said.
At age 15, he fished in his first tournament, at which he said he was “horrible.” That didn’t deter him. He considered becoming a full-time pro fisherman.
At the time, Hines was working at a factory.
Before he could pursue his career goal, a factory accident changed everything. A 180-ton press crushed his right hand.
After 21 reconstructive surgeries, Hines chose to have the hand amputated rather than attempt a transplant. He was told the transplant would automatically take off eight years from his life because of the nature of the drugs he would have to take.
While undergoing therapy, Hines met his wife, Debra, an occupational therapist.
“She knows my everyday hurts,” he said. “She knows my limitations.”
Fired from his job, Hines adjusted his plans a little.
He refused to live on disability.
“I’d rather be supporting the community than the community supporting me,” Hines said.
Struck by an experience trying to get his boat wrapped — namely being unable to find anyone in the area who did that type of work — Hines got an idea for a business.
A wrap consists of material, usually with graphics, fitted snugly over an object, such as a boat or vehicle.
Though he did not have a background in graphic design, Hines began learning all he could about the work and opened Uptown Graphics. The first wrap he did was a failure, he said.
But he persisted.
Now it’s difficult to drive anywhere in Hardin County — or throughout the country, for that matter — without seeing his work.
“We’ve grown tremendously in six years,” Hines said.
That growth includes a contract with Army ROTC, work for the Department of Agriculture and jobs for numerous businesses and individuals stretching from northern Ohio to Tennessee. He also does banners.
Describing himself as “very meticulous,” Hines doesn’t cut corners, choosing techniques that limit the number of lines created by matching up panels. He carefully cuts around areas, such as windows, rather than use multiple panels.
One of his more interesting projects was one for a heating and cooling business van that appears as if a man is standing at an open door in the back of the van. Another wrap on a lawn service truck makes it appear as if the driver is on a riding lawn mower.
The largest project Hines has done was a 53-foot semi-truck and trailer for Country Music Television.
In his seven years in business, he said, he hasn’t paid himself anything yet. It’s mostly about doing something he has a passion for.
His other passion isn’t gone, either.
Though Hines could not fish competitively for five or six years after the accident, he since has been fitted with a prosthetic hand that allows him to do so. He is a Professional Anglers Association pro fisherman.
Hines hopes to extend his love of fishing to area students with a fishing program he’s in the process of coordinating.
Hines is also a second-term city councilman in Upton.
“You hear all the time people who want to sit and complain,” Hines said. “Don’t sit and complain; get up and do.”
What others might have considered roadblocks seem to have been nothing more than bumps in the road for Hines.
“It’s not about what you can do,” he said. “It’s what you think you can do.”
Robert Villanueva can be reached at (270) 505-1743 or rvillanueva@ thenewsenterprise.com.
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